A record prize fund of €2,200,000 has been announced for the fourth edition of the Nissan Irish Open, which will again be played over the highly-acclaimed Colin Montgomerie course at Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare, from May 18-21, 2006.
Nissan Ireland, title sponsors of the Nissan Irish Open since 2003, today confirmed that the prize money will increase by €200,000 with a winner’’s cheque for €366,660 at stake next year.
The latest increase emphasises the dramatic progress which the Nissan Irish Open has made in the past 30 years since Christy O’’Connor Jnr captured the title in 1975, when the prize fund stood at €35,000.
Prize money reached €1,000,000 for the first time in 1996 when Colin Montgomerie of Scotland won the first of his three Irish Open titles while there has been an increase every year since Nissan took over as title sponsor with a prize fund of €1,800,000 in 2003. This rose to €1,900,000 in 2004 and to €2,000,000 when Stephen Dodd of Wales triumphed at Carton House last year.
Gerard O’’Toole, Executive Chairman, Nissan Ireland said: “I am delighted to announce an increase in the prize fund to €2.2 million for the 2006 Nissan Irish Open. The increased prize fund presents us with a great opportunity to attract some of Europe’’s most elite players to play in the 2006 Nissan Irish Open as the pressure to accumulate Ryder Cup points mounts and I am confident that this coupled with our return to the superb world-class Montgomerie course in Carton House will attract record spectator numbers for a truly spectacular event in May 2006.
Shaun Quinn, Chief Executive of Fáilte Ireland, said: “In a year when Ireland proudly plays host to the ultimate prize in team golf, The Ryder Cup, Fáilte Ireland is once again delighted to sponsor the Irish Open in 2006. The Irish Open is one of Ireland’’s showcase golf tournaments and, as a permanent annual fixture on The European Tour calendar, a great opportunity for us to promote the quality and variety of golf courses located throughout the country.
“I am particularly happy that this event is returning to Carton House again in 2006 as this is a perfect example of the wonderful high quality courses which can be found all over Ireland. The spectacular scenery of Carton House will play a big part in promoting Irish golf to overseas visitors attending the event and also to overseas golfers watching the event on television. It will no doubt also offer a tough challenge to the top class field participating in 2006 and great golf for those following the event.”
George O’’Grady, Executive Director of The European Tour, said: “The Nissan Irish Open commands a very special place in the golfing calendar with a strong combination of Nissan as title sponsors, a uniquely Irish venue in Carton House, and a world class field which guarantees a truly outstanding event. We are delighted that our Members will be playing for an increased prize fund of €2.2 million in 2006.”
Following a recent course inspection at Carton House, The European Tour’’s Tournament Director, David Probyn, reports that the course is in excellent condition going into winter and has matured extremely well in all areas since the Nissan Irish Open in May.
Moreover, all parties have taken into account, constructive comments received from players during the event this year and preparation of the course is being adjusted accordingly.
In general terms, the un-maintained rough has been cut down during the summer and when allowed to re-establish will provide a less penal test in terms of density of grass as well as proximity to the main landing areas.
More specifically, in conjunction with Colin Montgomerie and his design team, the strategic test on some holes has been modified with fairway reshaping the first, fourth, sixth, tenth, 11th and 16th holes.
Probyn said: “Whilst this Championship design will remain an extremely demanding test worthy of the Nissan Irish Open title, the changes being made are very positive and will ensure that Carton House plays host to an even more successful event in 2006.”